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Commuters feel betrayed

CROWN POINT/ADDISON - After a shift as a police officer in Shelburne, Vt., Bruce Beuerlein used to relax during his hour drive home to Ticonderoga.

No more. With the Lake Champlain Bridge in Crown Point closed, Beuerlein is now faced with worries about his route home. Will the lines at the ferry be shorter than the 90-mile detour through Whitehall? And what about the next day? He can't afford to be late for work.

"Betrayed," Beuerlein said when asked his feelings on the bridge closure. "That's how I feel."

He's not alone.

Bill Buell, a Crown Point resident who also depends on the bridge to get to and from work, has called for everyone associated with the span for be fired.

Mark Alford of Port Henry, another commuter, has suggested people file lawsuits against the state for its neglect of the bridge.

Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava understands the emotions of those who count on the Lake Champlain Bridge.

"It's the government's responsibility to provide a safe transportation system for our constituents," he said. "We let them down."

The bridge, which serves about 4,000 vehicles a day, links New York and Vermont. It was closed Oct. 16 when an inspection found its concrete piers had disintegrated.

The bridge is jointly owned by the states of New York and Vermont, although New York DOT is responsible for its maintenance.

The bridge, built in 1929, has been the site of repair work since mid-summer. Plans are being made to replace the bridge in 2013.

To help commuters deal with the bridge closure, New York State has established an outreach center. It can be reached by calling toll-free number 1-888-769-7243. The center, open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, can also be reached by calling 485-1159.

The state has also made "impact statement" available to New York and Vermont commuters. It is available by calling 518-597-3035.

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